The Importance Of Creative Hobbies For Addicts

by Rose

If you are an addict, or you have a friend or family member who is, then you probably know this truth: Addicts are some of the most creative, sensitive and intelligent people you will ever meet. I don’t just say this because I am a recovering addict, either. It’s just true. If you think about it, you will realize that some of the most famous musicians, authors, painters and poets have struggled with both substance abuse and mental illness.

Addicts often feel a powerful pull to create art, music and poetry. We may feel an urge to build things, to grow things and to bring our imaginations to life through art. It’s important to follow this instinct to create; it’s part of a healthy, well-rounded life. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that creativity is a waste of time!

The Myth Of Creativity And Substances

Although I didn’t start using drugs to enhance creativity, I certainly subscribed to the theory that drugs and alcohol are great ways to get inspired and to help expand creative horizons. I think a lot of people share this belief.

While it’s true that there are plenty of artists of all types who use, I don’t believe that drugs or alcohol are responsible for creativity. At best, certain substances may help loosen inhibitions that can sometimes prevent people from allowing themselves to be creative. Much in the same way that some people will only dance if they are drunk.

With that said, it still remains a point of controversy as to whether certain drugs aid in the creative process. But here’s what I do know: Addiction does not benefit creativity.

Addiction is a creativity killer.

This is because when you are addicted to substances, the getting and using of those substances takes priority over everything else. Things like hobbies, art, family and fun take a backseat to getting drunk or high. How many a promising art or music career has been ruined because of substance abuse gone out of control? Or, worse yet, how many of our greatest artists have died as a result of addiction, robbing the world of their creative offerings?

I’m no great artist, but when I was in my addiction, I stopped creating. I only focused on the drugs.

Creativity In Sobriety

Some people get clean and sober and find that they suddenly can’t create. It’s important to understand that this is temporary. In your first year of recovery, your brain is working hard to heal itself from damage done by drugs. Neurotransmitters are normalizing and a tremendous amount of energy is being devoted to learning how to live daily life without the use of substances. If you were accustomed to doing certain types of creative activities while drunk or high, such as making music, it may take you a little while to relearn how to do it sober. Stick with it. Don’t give into the lie that you “need” drugs or alcohol to create, you don’t.

Even though I didn’t feel a creative spark in my early recovery, it was still important for me to try and be creative. I was told that things like writing and creating art would help my brain heal faster, and these activities were a great outlet for some of the feelings I was experiencing.

Also, it’s important to know that creativity isn’t limited to art projects. Anything that enables you to express yourself is a form of creativity. And, it’s also good to remember that just because you think you aren’t “good” at something doesn’t mean you aren’t creative. Creativity isn’t about pressure and perfection, it’s about self-expression and it should be fun!

Ways To Be Creative In Recovery

There are countless ways to practice creativity in your recovery. You do not have to have previous artistic ability, know how to “make stuff” or have some special talent. Creativity isn’t some mysterious thing that only certain people have. Yes, some people seem to have an innate gift for certain things, like sculpting or playing a musical instrument, but most of us simply enjoy the process, and that is all that is needed to create: enjoyment and the willingness to try new things.

Some simple ways to explore creativity include:

- Journaling
- Cooking
- Doodling
- Creating collage with magazines or other materials
- Dancing
- Woodworking
- Gardening
- Pottery
- Coloring
- Photography
- Scrapbooking
- Sewing
- Knitting/crocheting
- Anything else that appeals to you

Another idea is combining service with creativity. Some ways you can do this is to volunteer at a senior center. Many senior facilities are in need of people to volunteer with arts and crafts classes and workshops. Likewise, youth programs are also frequently in need of adults to help guide kids through craft and art projects.

Fun In Recovery

One thing I was taught early on is how important it is to have fun in recovery. For me, I enjoy travel, photography and writing. These things keep me sane and help keep my life full and satisfying. I didn’t get into recovery to just get up, go to work and go to sleep. Sometimes, we get caught up in trying to make up for all the time we wasted using by overworking and taking life too seriously. This is a huge mistake that can lead to relapse. Life should be full of joy, fun and creativity. That’s what helps us stay clean and sober.

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- Matthew 7:7-8

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